Writer: Norman Martin
LAS CRUCES - The fruits of New Mexico's budding wine industry will be featured at a viticulture field day Aug. 9-10 at Zin Valle Vineyards in Canutillo, Texas. The program is sponsored by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service and Texas Cooperative Extension.
"Today, New Mexico and far West Texas have more than 30 wineries, making them two of the bigger wine industry players in the Southwest," said John White, Doņa Ana County's Extension horticulture agent. Spanish missionaries planted the first vines in New Mexico in 1629 near Socorro, he said.
Zin Valle is located 27 miles south of Las Cruces on Highway 28. Pre-registration for each session, which includes lunch on Aug. 10, is $20 per person. On-site registration is $25 each day.
The first day of the program, which targets homeowners interested in growing grapes, begins at 1 p.m. The following day, the focus shifts to current grape growers and producers interested in entering the field.
Extension and industry experts will cover irrigation scheduling, optimal harvesting times and vineyard fertilization, said Daphne Richards, El Paso County's Extension horticulture agent. Other discussions will focus on winemaking technology and equipment.
Featured speaker Ed Hellman is a Texas Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist or wine grape-growing expert based in Lubbock, she said. Presentations will be followed by a vineyard tour and wine tasting.
New Mexico growers raise dozens of grape varieties, including many European, or vinifera grapes that thrive in warmer areas in the south, said Mike English, superintendent of NMSU's Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center. Researchers at the science facility have conducted grape variety trials since 1998.
A recent increase in state funding for agricultural research and grower assistance programs at NMSU should help boost wine production statewide. This year the New Mexico legislature provided the university with $152,750 for a new wine grape viticulture program. With the funding, NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics will hire its first viticulturist.
For more information about the field day, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact White in advance at (505) 525-6649 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Richards at (915) 859-7725 or email@example.com.
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